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SERMON CLXV.

THE PRESENT AND FUTURE ADVANTAGE OF A HOLY AND VIRTUOUS LIFE.

What fruit had ye then in those things, whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.—Rom. vi. 21, 22.

I HAVE several times told you, that the apostle in these words makes a comparison between a holy and virtuous, and a sinful and vicious course of life;, and sets before us the manifest inconveniences of the one, and the manifold advantages of the other.

I have finished my discourse upon the first part of the comparison—the manifest inconveniences of a sinful and vicious course. I proceed now to the other part of the comparison, which was the

Second thing I propounded to speak to from these words; viz. the manifold benefits and advantages of a holy and virtuous course; and that upon these two accounts:

First, Of the present benefit and advantage of it, which the apostle here calls fruit, “Ye have your fruit unto holiness.”

Secondly, In respect of the future reward of it, “and the end everlasting life.” So that here is a considerable earnest in hand, besides a mighty recompence afterwards, infinitely beyond the proportion of our best actions and services, both in regard of the greatness and duration of it, “everlasting 372life;” that is, for a few transient acts of obedience, a perfect, and immutable, and endless state of happiness. And these two the apostle mentions in opposition to the inconveniencies and evil consequences of a wicked and vicious course; “What fruit had you then in those things?” &c.

But before I come to speak to these two particulars, I shall take notice of the description which the apostle here makes of the change from a state of sin and vice to a state of holiness and virtue. “But now, being made free from sin, and become the servants of God;” intimating that the state of sin is a state of servitude and slavery, from which repentance and the change which is thereby made does set us free; “But now, being made free from sin.” And so our Saviour tells us, that “whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin;” and this is the vilest and hardest slavery in the world, because it is the servitude of the soul, the best and noblest part of ourselves; it is the subjection of our reason, which ought to rule and bear sway over the inferior faculties, to our sensual appetites and brutish passions; which is as uncomely a sight, as to see beggars ride on horseback, and princes walk on foot. And as inferior persons, when they are advanced to power, are strangely insolent and tyrannical towards those that are subject to them; so the lusts and passions of men, when they once get the command of them, are the most domineering tyrants in the world; and there is no such slave as a man that is subject to his appetite and lust, that is under the power of irregular passions and vicious inclinations, which transport and hurry him to the vilest and most unreasonable things. For a wicked man is a slave to as many masters as he hath passions and vices: and they are 373very imperious and exacting; and the more be yields to them, the more they grow upon him, and exercise the greater tyranny over him; and being subject to so many masters, the poor slave is continually divided and distracted between their contrary commands and impositions; one passion hurries him one way, and another as violently drives him another; one lust commands him upon such a service, and another, it may be, at the same time calls him to another work. His pride and ambition bids him spend and lay it out, whilst his covetousness holds his hand fast closed; so that he knows not many times how to dispose of himself, or what to do, he must displease some of his masters, and what inclination soever he contradicts, he certainly displeaseth himself.

And that which aggravates the misery of his condition is, that he voluntarily submits to this servitude. In other cases men are made slaves against their wills, and are brought under the force and power of others, whom they are not able to resist; but the sinner chooseth this servitude, and willingly puts his neck under this yoke. There are few men in the world so sick of their liberty, and so weary of their own happiness, as to choose this condition; but the sinner sells himself, and voluntarily parts with that liberty which he might keep, and which none could take from him.

And, which makes this condition yet more in tolerable, he makes himself a slave to his own servants, to those who are born to be subject to him, to his own appetites and passions; and this certainly is the worst kind of slavery, so much worse than that of mines and galleys, as the soul is more noble and excellent than the body.

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Men are not usually so sensible of the misery of this kind of servitude, because they are governed by sense more than reason; but, according to a true judgment and estimation of things, a vicious course of life is the saddest slavery of all others. And therefore the gospel represents it as a design every way worthy of the Son of God, to come down from Leaven, and to debase himself so far as to assume our nature, and to submit to the death of the cross, on purpose to rescue us from this slavery, and to assert us into “the liberty of the sons of God.” And this is the great design of the doctrine of the gospel, to free men from the bondage of their lusts, and to bring them to the service of God, “whose service is perfect freedom.” And therefore our Saviour tells us, (John viii. 31, 32.) that “if we continue in his word,” i. e. if we obey his doctrine, and frame our lives according to it, it will make us free; “Ye shall know (says he) the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” And if we observe it, the Scripture delights very much to set forth to us the benefits and advantages of the Christian religion by the metaphor of liberty and redemption from captivity and slavery. Hence our Saviour is so often called the Redeemer and Deliverer, and is said to have “obtained eternal redemption for us.” And the publishing of the gospel is compared to the proclaiming of the year of jubilee among the Jews, when all persons that would were set at liberty. (Isa. lxi. 1, 2.) “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,” saith the prophet, speaking in the person of the Messiah, “because he hath anointed me to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” And it is probable that upon this account, likewise, the Christian 375doctrine or law is by St. James called “the royal law of liberty.”

This is the great design of Christianity, to set men free from the slavery of their lusts; and to this end the apostle tells us, (Tit. ii. 14.) that “Christ gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” And herein the great mercy and compassion of God towards mankind appeared, in that he sent his Son to rescue us from that servitude which we had long groaned under, “that, being made free from sin, we might become the servants of God,” and “the servants of righteousness.”

And this he hath done, not only by the price of his blood, but by the power and purity of his doctrine, and the holy example of his life, and by all those considerations which represent to us the misery of our sinful state, and the infinite danger of continuing in it; and, on the other hand, by setting before us the advantages of a religious and holy life; and what a blessed change we make, when we quit the service of sin, and become the servants of God. It will not only be a mighty present benefit to us, but will make us happy to all eternity; and these are the two considerations which, at first, I propounded to speak to at this time:

First, The present benefit of a holy and virtuous life, which the apostle here calls fruit; “But now being free from sin, and become the servants of God, ye have your fruit unto holiness.”

Secondly, The future reward and recompence of it; “and the end everlasting life.”

First, Let us consider the present benefit and advantage of a holy and virtuous life, which the apostle here calls fruit. If all things be truly considered, 376there is no advantage comes to any man by a wicked and vicious course of life. A wicked life is no present advantage; the reflection upon it afterwards is shameful and troublesome, and the end of it miserable: but, on the contrary, the advantages of a holy and good life are many and great even in this world, and upon temporal accounts, abstracting from the consideration of a future reward in the world to come.

I shall instance in five or six eminent advantages which it usually brings to men in this world.

I. It brings great peace and contentment of mind.

II. It is a very fit and proper means to promote our outward temporal interest.

III. It tends to the lengthening our days, and hath frequently the blessing of long life attending upon it.

IV. It gives a man great peace and comfort when he comes to die.

V. After death it transmits a good name and reputation to posterity.

VI. It derives a blessing upon our posterity after us. And these are certainly the greatest blessings that a wise man can aim at, and design to himself in this world. Every one of these taken severally is very considerable; but all of them together complete a man’s temporal felicity, and raise it to as high a pitch as is to be expected in this world.

I. A religious and virtuous course of life is the best way to peace and contentment of mind, and does commonly bring it. And to a wise man, that knows how to value the ease and satisfaction of his own mind, there cannot be a greater temptation to religion and virtue, than to consider that it is the best and only way to give rest to his mind. And this 377is present fruit, and ready payment; because it immediately follows, or rather accompanies, the discharge of our duty. “The fruit of righteousness is peace,” saith the prophet; and the apostle to the Hebrews speaks of “the peaceable fruit of righteousness,” meaning that inward peace which a righteous man hath in his own mind.

A man needs not to take pains, or to use many arguments, to satisfy and content his own mind, after he hath done a good action, and to convince himself that he hath no cause to be troubled for it, for peace and pleasure do naturally spring from it: nay, not only so, but there is an unexpressible kind of pleasure and delight that flows from the testimony of a good conscience. Let but a man take care to satisfy himself in the doing of his duty, and whatever troubles and storms may be raised from without, all will be clear and calm within: for nothing but guilt can trouble a man’s mind, and fright his conscience, and make him uneasy to himself; that indeed will wound his spirit, and sting his very soul, and make him full of fearful and tormenting thoughts. This Cain found after he had committed that crying sin of murdering his brother. (Gen. iv. 6.) “The Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth, and why is thy countenance fallen?” His guilt made him full of wrath, and discontent filled his mind with vexation, and his countenance with shame and confusion. When a man’s conscience is awakened to a sense of his guilt it is angry and froward, and harder to be stilled than a peevish child; but the practice of holiness and virtue does produce just the contrary effects; it fills a man’s mind with pleasure, and makes his countenance cheerful.

And this certainly, if it be well considered, is no 378small and contemptible advantage. The peace and tranquillity of our minds is the great thing which all the philosophy and wisdom of the world did al ways design to bring men to, as the very utmost happiness that a wise man is capable of in this life: and it is that which no considerate man would part with for all that this world can give him. The greatest fortune in this world ought to be no temptation to any man in his wits, to submit to perpetual sickness and pain for the gaining of it; and yet there is no disease in the world, that for the sharpness of it is comparable to the sting of a guilty mind y and no pleasure equal to that of innocence and a good conscience. And this naturally springs up in, the mind of a good man, where it is not hindered either by a melancholy temper, or by false principles in religion, which fill a man with groundless fears and jealousies of the love and favour of God towards him; and excepting these two cases, this is the ordinary fruit of a holy and good course, which is not interrupted by frequent falling into sin, and great omissions and violations of our duty: for in this case the interruptions of our peace and comfort will naturally be answerable to the inequality of our obedience.

II. Besides the present and inestimable fruit of holiness, the quiet and satisfaction of our own minds; it is likewise a proper means to promote our interest and happiness in this world. For as every vice is naturally attended with some temporal inconvenience of pain or loss; so there is no grace or virtue, but does apparently conduce to a man’s temporal felicity. There are some virtues which tend to the health of his body, and the prolonging of his life, as temperance and chastity; others tend to riches and 379plenty, as diligence and industry in our callings; others to the secure and peaceable enjoyment of what we have, as truth and fidelity, justice and honesty in all our dealings and intercourse with men. There are other virtues that are apt to oblige man kind to us, and to gain their friendship and good will, their aid and assistance, as kindness, and meekness, and charity, and a generous disposition to do good to all, as far as we have power and opportunity. In a word, there is no real interest of this world but may ordinarily be as effectually promoted and pursued to as great advantage by a man that exercises himself in the practice of all virtue and goodness, and usually to far greater advantage, than by one that is intemperate and debauched, deceitful and dishonest, apt to disoblige and provoke, sour and ill-natured to all mankind: for there is none of these vices but is to a man’s real hinderance and disadvantage, in regard of one kind of happiness or another, which men aim at and propose to themselves in this world.

III. A religious and virtuous course of life doth naturally tend to the prolonging of our days, and hath very frequently the blessing of health and long life attending upon it. The practice of a great many virtues is a great preservative of life and health, as, the due government of our appetites and passions, by temperance, and chastity, and meekness, which prevent the chief causes from within of bodily diseases and distempers; the due government of our tongues and conversation in respect of others, by justice and kindness, and abstaining from wrath and provocation, which are a great security against the dangers of outward violence, according to that of St. Peter, (1 Epist. iii. 10.) “He 380that will love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile; let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.”

And beside the natural tendency of things, there is a special blessing of God which attends good men, and makes “their days long in the land which the Lord their God hath given them.”

IV. There is nothing gives a man so much comfort when he comes to die, as the reflection upon a holy and good life: and then surely, above all other times, comfort is most valuable, because our frail and infirm nature doth then stand most in need of it. Then usually men’s hearts are faint, and their spirits low, and every thing is apt to deject and trouble them; so that we had need to provide ourselves of some excellent cordial against that time; and there is no comfort like to that of a clear conscience, and of an innocent and useful life. This will revive and raise a man’s spirits under all the infirmities of his body, because it gives a man good hopes concerning his eternal state, and the hopes of that are apt to fill a man with “joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

The difference between good and bad men is never so remarkable in this world, as when they are upon their death-bed. This the Scripture observes to us. (Psal. xxxvii. 37.) “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.”

With what triumph and exultation doth the blessed apostle St. Paul, upon the review of his life, discourse concerning his death and dissolution? (2 Tim. iv. 6-8.) “I am now ready (says he) to be offered up, and the time of my departure is at 381hand: I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me at that day.” What would not any of us do to be thus affected when we come to leave the world, and to be able to bear the thoughts of death and eternity with so quiet and well satisfied a mind! Why, let us but endeavour to live holy lives, and to be useful and serviceable to God in our generation, as this holy apostle was, and we shall have the same ground of joy and triumph which he had. For this is the proper and genuine effect of virtue and goodness; “The work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” All the good actions that we do in this life are so many seeds of comfort sown in our own consciences, which will spring up one time or other, but especially in the approaches of death, when we come to take a serious review of our lives; for then men’s consciences use to deal plainly and impartially with them, and to tell them the truth; and if at that time more especially “our hearts condemn us not, then may we have comfort and confidence towards God.”

V. A holy and virtuous life doth transmit a good name and reputation to posterity. And this Solomon hath determined to be a much greater happiness, than for a man to leave a great estate behind him: “A good name (says he) is rather to be chosen than great riches.” Pious and virtuous men do commonly gain to themselves a good esteem and reputation in this world, while they are in it; but the virtues of good men are not always so bright and shining as to meet with that respect and 382acknowledgment which is due to them in this world. Many times they are much clouded by the infirmities and passions which attend them, and are shadowed by some affected singularities and morosities, which those which have lived more retired from the world are more liable to. Besides that, the envy of others, who are not so good as they, lies heavy upon them, and does depress them. For bad men are very apt to misinterpret the best actions of the good, and put false colours upon them, and when they have nothing else to object against them, to charge them with hypocrisy and insincerity; an objection as hard to be answered, as it is to be made good, unless we could see into the hearts of men.

But when good men are dead and gone, and the bright and shining example of their virtues is at a convenient distance, and does not gall and upbraid others, then envy ceaseth, and every man is then content to give a -good man his due praise, and his friends and posterity may then quietly enjoy the comfort of his reputation, which is some sort of blessing to him that is gone. This difference Solomon observes to us between good and bad men; “The memory of the just is blessed,” or well spoke of; “but the name of the wicked shall rot.”

VI. And lastly, religion and virtue do derive a blessing upon our posterity after us. “O that there were such a heart in them (saith Moses, concerning the people of Israel), that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them and their children for ever!” And to this purpose there are many promises in Scripture of God’s blessing the posterity of the righteous, and his shewing mercy “to thousands 383of the children of them that love him, and keep his commandments.”

And this is a great motive to obedience, and toucheth upon that natural affection which men bear to their children; so that if we have any regard to them, or concernment for their happiness, we ought to be very careful of our duty, and afraid to offend God: because, according as we demean ourselves towards him, we entail a lasting blessing or a great curse upon our children; by so many and so strong bonds hath God tied our duty upon us, that if we either desire our own happiness, or the happiness of those that are dearest to us, and part of ourselves, we must “fear God, and keep his commandments.”

And thus I have briefly represented to you some of the chief benefits and advantages which a holy and virtuous life does commonly bring to men in this world, which is the first encouragement mentioned in the text; “Ye have your fruit unto holiness.”

Before I proceed to the second, I shall only just lake notice, by way of application of what has been said on this argument,

1. That it is a great encouragement to well-doing, to consider that ordinarily piety and goodness are no hinderance to a man’s temporal felicity, but very frequently great promoters of it; so that, excepting only the case of persecution for religion, I think I may safely challenge any man to shew me how the practice of any part or duty of religion, how the exercise of any grace or virtue, is to the prejudice of a man’s temporal interest, or does debar him of any true pleasure, or hinder him of any real advantage, which a prudent and considerate man would think 384fit to choose. And as for persecution and sufferings for religion, God can reward us for them, if he please, in this world; and we have all the assurance that we can desire, that he will do it abundantly in the next.

2. The hope of long life, and especially of a quiet and comfortable death, should be a great encouragement to a holy and virtuous life. He that lives well, takes the best course to live long, and lays in for a happy old age, free from the diseases and infirmities which are naturally procured by a vicious youth, and likewise free from the guilt and galling remembrance of a wicked life. And there is no condition which we can fall into in this world, that does so clearly discover the difference between a good and bad man, as a death-bed: for then the good man begins most sensibly to enjoy the comforts of well doing, and the sinner to taste the bitter fruits of sin. What a wide difference is then to be seen between the hopes and fears of these two sorts of persons! and surely, next to the actual possession of blessedness, the good hopes and comfortable prospect of it are the greatest happiness; and next to actual sense of pain, the fear of suffering is the greatest torment.

Though there were nothing beyond this life to be expected, yet if men were sure to be possessed with these delightful or troublesome passions when they come to die, no man that wisely considers things would, for all the pleasures of sin, forfeit the comfort of a righteous soul leaving this world full of the hope of immortality; and endure the vexation and anguish of a guilty conscience, and that infinite terror and amazement which so frequently possesseth the soul of a dying sinner.

3. If there be any spark of a generous mind in us, 385it should animate us to do well, that we may be well spoken of when we are gone off the stage, and may transmit a grateful memory of our lives to those that shall be after us. I proceed now to the

Second thing I proposed, as the great advantage indeed; viz. The glorious reward of a holy and virtuous life in another world, which is here called “everlasting life”—“and the end everlasting life;” by which the apostle intends to express to us, both the happiness of our future state, and the way and means whereby we are prepared and made meet to be made partakers of it; and that is by the constant and sincere endeavours of a holy and good life. For it is they only that “have their fruit unto holiness,” whose end shall be “everlasting life.” I shall speak briefly to these two, and so conclude my discourse upon this text.

I. The happiness of our future state, which is here expressed by the name of “everlasting life,” in very few words, but such as are of wonderful weight and significancy: for they import the excellency of this state, and the eternity of it. And who is sufficient to speak to either of these arguments? both of them are too big to enter now into the heart of man, too vast and boundless to be comprehended by human understanding, and too unwieldy to be managed by the tongue of men and angels, answer able to the unspeakable greatness and glory of them. And if I were able to declare them unto you, as they deserved, you would not be able to hear me. And therefore I shall choose to say but little upon an argument of which I can never say enough, and shall very briefly consider those two things which are comprehended in that short description which the text gives us of our future happiness, by the name of 386“everlasting life;” viz. The excellency of this state, and the eternity of it.

1. The excellency of it, which is here represented to us under the notion of life, the most desirable of all other things, because it is the foundation of all other enjoyments whatsoever. Barely to be in being, and to be sensible that we are so, is but a dry notion of life. The true notion of life is to be well and to be happy, vivere est bene valere. They who are in the most miserable condition that can be imagined are in being, and sensible also that they are miserable. But this kind of life is so far from coming under the true notion of life, that the Scripture calls it “the second death.” (Rev. xxi. 8.) It is there said, that “the wicked shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” And, (chap. xx. 6.) “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death shall have no power.” So that a state of mere misery and torment is not life but death; nay, the Scripture will not allow the life of a wicked man in this world to be true life, but speaks of him as dead: (Ephes. ii. 1.) speaking of the sinners among the gentiles, “You (saith the apostle) hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” And, which is more yet, the Scripture calls a life of sinful pleasures (which men esteem the only happiness of this world), the Scripture, I say, calls this a death. (1 Tim. v. 6.) “She that liveth in pleasure, is dead whilst she liveth.” A lewd and unprofitable life, which serves to no good end and purpose, is a death rather than a life. Nay, that decaying and dying life which we now live in this world, and which is allayed by the mixture of so many infirmities and pains, of so much 387trouble and sorrow, I say, that even this sort of life, for all that we are so fondly in love with it, does hardly deserve the name of life. But the life of the world to come, of which we now speak, this is life indeed; to do those things which we were made for, to serve the true ends of our being, and to enjoy the comfort and reward of so doing, this is the true notion of life; and whatever is less than this, is death, or a degree of it, and approach towards it. And therefore very well may heaven and happiness be described by the notion of life, because truly to live and to be happy are words that signify the same thing.

But what kind of life this is, I can no more describe to you in the particularities of it, than Colum bus could have described the particular manners and customs of the people of America, before he or any other person in these parts of the world had seen it or been there. But this I can say of it in general, and that from the infallible testimony of the great Creator and glorious inhabitants of that blessed place, that it is a state of pure pleasure and unmingled joys, of pleasures more manly, more spiritual, and more refined, than any of the delights of sense, consisting in the enlargement of our minds and knowledge to a greater degree, and in the perfect exercise of love and friendship, in the conversation of the best and wisest company, free from self-interest, and all those unsociable passions of envy and jealousy, of malice and ill-will, which spoil the comfort of all conversation in this world; and, in a word, free from all other passion or design but an ardent and almost equal desire to contribute all, that by all means possible they can, to the mutual happiness of one another: for charity reigns in 388heaven, and is the brightest grace and virtue in the firmament of glory, far outshining all other; as St. Paul, who had himself been taken up into the third heaven, does expressly declare to us.

Farther yet, this blessed state consists more particularly in these two things: in having our bodies raised and refined to a far greater purity and perfection than ever they had in this world; and in the consequent happiness of the whole man, soul and body, so strictly and firmly united as never to be parted again, and so equally matched as to be no trouble or impediment to one another.

(1.) In having our bodies raised and refined to a greater purity and perfection than ever they had in this world. Our bodies, as they are now, are unequally tempered, and in a perpetual flux and change, continually tending to corruption, because made up of such contrary principles and qualities as by their perpetual conflict are always at work, conspiring the ruin and dissolution of them: but when they are raised again, they shall be so tempered and so refined, as to be free from all those destructive qualities which do now threaten their change and dissolution: and though they shall still consist of matter, yet they shall be purified to that degree, as to partake of the immortality of our souls, to which they shall be united, and to be of equal duration with them. So the Scripture tells us, (1 Cor. xv. 52, 53.) “That our dead bodies shall be raised incorruptible: for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”

Our bodies, when they are laid in the grave, are vile carcasses, but they shall be raised again beautiful and glorious, and as different from what they 389were before, as the heavenly mansions, in which they are to reside for ever, are from that dark cell of the grave out of which they are raised; and shall then be endowed with such a life, and strength, and vigour, as to be able, without any change or decay, to abide and continue for ever in the same state.

Our bodies in this world are gross flesh and blood, liable to be affected with natural and sensual pleasures, and to be afflicted with natural pains and diseases; to be pressed with the natural necessities of hunger and thirst, and obnoxious to all those changes and accidents to which all natural things are subject: but “they shall be raised spiritual bodies,” pure and refined from all the dregs of matter; they shall not hunger, nor thirst, nor be diseased, or in pain any more.

“These houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust,” are continually decaying; and, therefore, stand in need of continual reparation by food and physic: but “our house, which is from heaven” (as the apostle calls it) shall be of such lasting and durable materials, as not only time, but even eternity itself, shall make no impression upon it, or cause the least decay in it. “They (says our blessed Saviour) who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, cannot die any more: but shall be like the angels, and are the children of God;” i. e. shall in some degree partake of the felicity and immortality of God himself, “who is always the same, and whose years fail not.” Nay, the apostle expressly tells us, that our bodies after the resurrection shall be spiritual bodies, so that we shall then be as it were all spirit, and our bodies shall be so raised and refined, that they shall be no clog or impediment to 390the operation of our souls. And it must needs be a great comfort to us whilst we are in this world, to live in the hopes of so happy and glorious a change; when we consider how our bodies do now oppress our spirits, and what a melancholy and dead weight they are upon them, how grievous an incumbrance, and trouble, and temptation they are, for the most part, to us in this mortal state.

(2.) The blessedness of this state consists, likewise, in the consequent happiness of the whole man, soul and body, so strictly and firmly united as never to be parted again, and so equally matched as to be no trouble and impediment to one another.

In this world the soul and body are for the most part very unequally yoked, so that the soul is not only darkened by the gross fumes and clouds which rise from the body, but loaded and oppressed by the dull weight of it, which it very heavily lugs on and draws after it; and the soul, likewise, and the vicious inclinations, and the irregular passions of it, have many times an ill influence upon the body and the humours of it. But in the next world they shall both be purified, the one from sin, and the other from frailty and corruption, and both be admitted to the blessed sight and enjoyment of the ever-blessed God.

But the consideration of this (as I said before) is too big for our narrow apprehensions in this mortal state, and an argument not fit to be treated of by such children as the wisest of men are in this world; and whenever we attempt to speak of it, we do but lisp like children, and understand like children, and reason like children about it; “That which is imperfect must be done away,” and our souls must be raised to a greater perfection, and our understandings 391filled with a stronger and steadier light, before we can be fit to engage in so profound a contemplation. We must first have been in heaven, and possessed of that felicity and glory which is there to be enjoyed, before we can either speak or think of it in any measure as it deserves. In the meantime, whenever we set about it, we shall find our faculties oppressed and dazzled with the weight and splendour of so great and glorious an argument; like St. Paul, who, when he “was caught up into paradise,” saw and heard those things which, when he came down again into this world, he was not able to express, and which it was not possible for the tongue of man to utter.

So that in discoursing of the state of the blessed, we must content ourselves with what the Scripture hath revealed in general concerning it; that it is a state of perfect freedom from all those infirmities and imperfections, those evils and miseries, those sins and temptations which we are liable to in this world. So St. John describes the glory and felicity of that state, as they were in visions represented to him: (Rev. xxi. 2-4.) “And I, John, saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away:” that is, all those evils which we saw or suffered in this world, shall for ever vanish and disappear; and, which is the great privilege and 392felicity of all, that there shall no sin be there: (ver. 27.) “There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth; and, consequently, there shall be no misery and curse there.” So we read, (chap. xxii. 3, 4.) “And there shall be no more curse; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall serve him, and they shall see his face.” In which last words our employment and our happiness are expressed; but what in particular our employment shall be, and wherein it shall consist, is impossible now to describe; it is sufficient to know in the general, that our employment shall be our unspeakable pleasure, and every way suitable to the glory and happiness of that state, and as much above the noblest and most delightful employments of this world, as the perfection of embodies, and the powers of our souls, shall then be above what they are now in this world.

For there is no doubt but that he who made us, and endued our souls with a desire of immortality, and so large a capacity of happiness, does understand very well by what way and means to make us happy, and hath in readiness proper exercises and employments for that state, and every way more fitted to make us happy, than any condition or employment in this world is suitable to a temporal happiness; employments that are suitable to “the spirits of just men made perfect,” united to bodies purified and refined almost to the condition of spirits; employments which we shall be so far from being weary of, that they shall minister to us a new and fresh delight to all eternity; and this, perhaps, not so much from the variety, as from the perpetual and growing pleasure of them.

It is sufficient for us to know this in the general, 393and to trust the infinite power, and wisdom, and goodness of God, for the particular manner and circum stances of our happiness: not doubting but that he, who is the eternal and inexhaustible spring and fountain of all happiness, can and will derive and convey such a share of it to every one of us as he thinks fit, and in such ways as he, who best under stands it, is best able to find out.

In a word, the happiness of the next life shall be such as is worthy of the great King of the world to bestow upon his faithful servants, and such as is in finitely beyond the just reward of their best services; it is to see God, i. e. to contemplate and love the best and most perfect of beings, and “to be for ever with the Lord, in whose presence is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore,”

J will say no more upon this argument, lest I should say less, and because whoever ventures to wade far into it will soon find himself out of his depth, and in danger to be swallowed up and lost in that great abyss, which is not to be fathomed by the shallow faculties of mortal men.

I shall therefore only mention the

2. Second thing I proposed to speak to; viz. the eternity of this happiness: “and the end everlasting life:” by which the apostle intends to express the utmost perfection, but not the final period, of the happiness of good men in another world. For to a perfect state of happiness these two conditions are requisite; that it be immutable, and that it be interminable, that it can neither admit of a change nor of an end. And this is all that I shall say of it, it being impossible to say any thing that is more intelligible and plain, concerning that which is infinite, 394than that it is so. I should now have proceeded to the

II. Second thing I proposed; viz. By what way and means we may be prepared, and made meet to be made partakers of this happiness; and that is (as I have told yon all along) by the constant and sincere endeavour of a holy and good life; for the text supposeth that they only who are “made free from sin, and become the servants of God,” and who “have their fruit unto holiness,” are they whose end shall be everlasting life. But this is an argument which I have had so frequent occasion to speak to, that I shall not now meddle with it. All that I shall do more at present, shall be to make an inference or two from what hath been said upon this argument.

I. The consideration of the happy state of good men in another world, cannot but be a great comfort and support to good men under all the evils and sufferings of this present life. Hope is a great cordial to the minds of men, especially when the thing hoped for does so vastly outweigh the present grievance and trouble. The Holy Scriptures, which reveal to us the happiness of our future state, do likewise assure us that there is no comparison between the afflictions and sufferings of good men in this world, and the reward of them in the other. “I reckon, (saith St. Paul, Rom. viii. 18.) that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.”

Particularly the consideration of that glorious change which shall be made in our bodies at the resurrection, ought to be a great comfort to us under all the pains and diseases which they are now liable to, and even against death itself. One of the greatest 395burthens of human nature, is the frailty and infirmity of our bodies, the necessities which they are frequently pressed withal, the diseases and pains to which they are liable, and the fear of death, by reason whereof a great part of mankind are subject to bondage; against all which this is an everlasting spring of consolation to us, that the time is coming when we shall have other sort of bodies, freed from that burthen of corruption which we now groan under, and from all those miseries and inconveniencies which flesh and blood are now subject to. For the time will come, when “these vile bodies,” which we now wear, “shall be changed, and fashioned like to the glorious body of the Son of God;” and when they shall be raised at the last day, they shall not be raised such as we laid them down, vile and corruptible, but immortal and incorruptible: for the same power which hath raised them up to life, shall likewise change them, and put a glory upon them like to that of the glorified body of our Lord; and when this glorious change is made, “when this corruptible hath put on incorruption, and this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory;” and when this last enemy is perfectly subdued, we shall be set above all the frailties and dangers, all the temptations and sufferings of this mortal state; there will be then no fleshly lusts and brutish passions to war against the soul; no law in our members to rise up in rebellion against the law of our minds; no diseases to torment us, no danger of death to terrify us; all the motions and passions of our outward man shall then be perfectly subject to the reason of our minds, and our bodies shall partake of the immortality of our souls. 396How should this consideration bear us up under all the evils of life and the fears of death, that the resurrection will be a perfect cure of all our infirmities and diseases, and an effectual remedy of all the evils that we now labour under; and that it is but a very little while that we shall be troubled with these frail, and mortal, and vile bodies, which shall shortly be laid in the dust, and when they are raised again, shall become spiritual, incorruptible, and glorious.

And if our bodies shall undergo so happy a change, what happiness may we imagine shall then be conferred upon our souls, that so much better and nobler part of ourselves! as the apostle reasons in another case, “Doth God take care of oxen?” Hath he this consideration of our bodies, which are but the brutish part of the man? what regard will he then have to his own image, that spark of divinity which is for ever to reside in these bodies? If, upon the account of our souls, and for their sakes, our bodies shall become incorruptible, spiritual, and glorious, then certainly our souls shall be endued with far more excellent and Divine qualities: if our bodies shall, in some degree, partake of the perfection of our souls in their spiritual and immortal nature, to what a pitch of perfection shall our souls be raised and advanced! even to an equality with angels, and to some kind of participation of the Divine nature and perfection, so far as a creature is capable of them.

II. The comparison which is here in the text, and which I have largely explained, between the manifest inconveniences of a sinful and vicious course, and the manifold advantages of a holy and virtuous life, is a plain direction to us which of these 397two to choose. So that I may make the same appeal that Moses does, after that he had at large declared the blessings promised to the obedience of God’s laws, and the curse denounced against the violation and transgression of them: (Deut. xxx. 19.) “I call heaven and earth to record against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life,” that you may be happy in life and death, and after death to all eternity. I know every one is ready to choose happiness, and to say with Balaam, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my latter end be like his:” but if we do in good earnest desire the end, we must take the way that leads to it; we must “become the servants of God,” and “have our fruit unto holiness,” if ever we expect that “the end shall be everlasting life.”

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